The Long Rain

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"The Long Rain"
Author Ray Bradbury
Original title "Death-by-Rain"
Country United States of America
Language English
Genre(s) Science fiction short story
Published in Planet Stories
Publication type Magazine
Publication date 1950

"The Long Rain" is a short story by science fiction author Ray Bradbury. This story was originally published in 1950 as "Death-by-Rain" in the magazine Planet Stories, and then in the collection The Illustrated Man. The story tells of four men who have crashed on a planet where it is always raining. As they try to reach the safety of the Sun Domes, they end up being driven insane by the endless rains.

The story was republished in several collections and was incorporated into the film adaptation of The Illustrated Man.

Plot summary[edit]

The story is set on Venus in a jungle, where a group of four men whose rocket has crashed are attempting to reach the safety of the Sun Dome. Bradbury portrays Venus as having nearly eternal rains. The men are led by a character who is only identified as "the Lieutenant". One of the men is killed by a lightning strike when he tries to run when "he shouldn't have jumped up". The three remaining men make their way to a Sun Dome, but find that it has been destroyed and offers no shelter from the rain. One of the men becomes despondent and stops responding, instead staring up into the rain. He is shot by Simmons who defends his actions as a mercy killing, preventing the man from slowly drowning as his lungs fill up with rain. As Simmons and the Lieutenant continue on to where they think the next Sun Dome should be, Simmons believes that he is also going to go insane before they reach safety, and so commits suicide. The Lieutenant continues on, and finally reaches the Sun Dome where he is warm and safe, with dry clothing and hot chocolate; although Bradbury hints that the refuge may just be a hallucination.[1]

Publishing history[edit]

The story was originally published in 1950 as "Death-by-Rain"[2] in the magazine Planet Stories. It was one of the first group of stories selected to be part of the collection The Illustrated Man.[3] It was later re-published in 1962 in R is for Robot, again in 1980 in The Stories of Ray Bradbury,[4] and in the 1990 omnibus The Golden Apples of the Sun.[5] It was also included in Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales (2005).[6]

Critique[edit]

Rob Fletcher uses the opening paragraph, in which Bradbury describes the rain of Venus with phrases like: "It was a hard rain, a perpetual rain, a sweating and steaming rain; it was a mizzle, a downpour, a fountain, a whipping in the eyes, an undertow at the ankles; it was a rain to drown all rains and the memory of rains." to illustrate the fact that Bradbury turns the rain into an "ominous force" that "threatens [the character's] very survival."[7]

"The Long Rain", as a story, is a "typical Bradbury space yarn."[3] His presentation of Venus as being rain-soaked has been proven wrong by more modern science, but was in line with the scientific views of the time.[8] The story was one in a large number of stories by many science fiction writers of the time that presented an "orthodoxy" that although it would be much more difficult than Mars, humans would fight to colonize Venus.[2] While his description of Venus is not scientifically accurate, "Bradbury's power of description makes it real enough."[9]

Adaptations[edit]

In 1969 Jack Smight directed a film adaptation of The Illustrated Man in which "The Long Rain" was one of three Bradbury stories placed within the framing story.[1][10] The film, starring Rod Steiger who was an acquaintance of Bradbury, was "both a critical and financial failure."[10]

The story was adapted for television in 1992, appearing as an episode in the series The Ray Bradbury Theater, starring Marc Singer, with Bradbury providing the introduction.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Reid, Robin Anne (2000). Ray Bradbury: A Critical Companion. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 45–. ISBN 9780313309014. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Stableford, Brian M. (2006). Science Fact and Science Fiction: An Encyclopedia. CRC Press. pp. 548–. ISBN 9780415974608. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Eller, Jonathan R. (2011-08-04). Becoming Ray Bradbury. University of Illinois Press. pp. 262–. ISBN 9780252036293. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  4. ^ Eller, Jonathan R.; Touponce, William F. (2004). Ray Bradbury: The Life of Fiction. Kent State University Press. pp. 480–. ISBN 9780873387798. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  5. ^ Bradbury, Ray (1997-11-01). Golden Apples of the Sun, The. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780380730391. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  6. ^ Bradbury, Ray (2005-04-05). Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780060544881. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  7. ^ Fletcher, Ralph (2012-07-03). Guy-Write: What Every Guy Writer Needs to Know. Macmillan. pp. 51–. ISBN 9781429955270. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  8. ^ Grinspoon, David Harry (1998). Venus Revealed: A New Look Below the Clouds of Our Mysterious Twin Planet. Basic Books. pp. 31–. ISBN 9780201328394. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  9. ^ Johnson, Wayne L. (1980). Ray Bradbury. F. Ungar Publishing Company. ISBN 9780804424264. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Weller, Sam (2006-02-21). The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury. HarperCollins. pp. 280–. ISBN 9780060545840. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  11. ^ "The Ray Bradbury Theater - The Long Rain (1992) - Full cast and crew". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 

External links[edit]